A-level results day: family survival guide

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It’s A-level results day tomorrow, and a recent survey shows that school students rely on family above all other forms of advice when making decisions about their future.

Career experts Prospects surveyed 1,423 under 18s about their plans for their careers and further education. When asked who they turned to for careers advice, 84 per cent cited family, 69 per cent teachers, 53 per cent friends and 50 per cent careers advisors.

The majority (78 per cent) of those surveyed planned to go to university, mainly to further study a subject they enjoyed (53 per cent) while 27 per cent said it was to get a better job and 12 per cent hoped to increase their lifetime earnings.

The majority (77 per cent) of students already knew the kind of job that they would like to do, with 31 per cent deciding in their first year of college (Year 12) and 30 per cent in Year 10 or 11.

Of those who planned to go straight into work or an apprenticeship (18 per cent), a third said it was because they felt they could have a good career without a degree. A quarter said they wanted to start earning money while one in ten was tired of studying.

Despite being confident in their decision making, students were confused over options available. Shockingly, around half didn’t know the difference between a job, an apprenticeship and a school leaver programme.

Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects said: “Family are clearly the power house behind education and career decisions for this age group, so it’s vital that we support parents and carers as much as students.”

His tips for parents on results day are;

Ensure your child has their UCAS Track log-in to hand, to check whether their chosen university has accepted them. If they cannot access Track or find that the university hasn’t made a decision, help them plan and make a persuasive phone call to the university. They may be offered a place even if they have dropped a grade or two.

If students change their mind about their first choice, a prompt call to the university is essential to ask to be released from this offer, before they can be considered for any other university place, including their insurance choice.

Most importantly, keep everything calm. Ensure they research alternative courses properly, get careers advice and avoid committing to three years of study which isn’t right for them.

If they don’t get a university place, make it clear that there are other options. They could gain valuable experience on a gap year and reapply, study for a professional qualification, or consider combining work and study on an apprenticeship.

The findings support Prospects’ move to include information and jobs for school and college leavers looking for alternatives to university on prospects.ac.uk.

Mr Ball added: “People are making important decisions about their future careers from their early teens, so this is a vital time for offering guidance. More than one in ten of those browsing our site are age 18, so we know this group is already career savvy and has an appetite for advice. We are currently forging relationships with the government and other influential groups to help better serve this age group.”

Don’t forget to tell us all your A-level results day stories - successes, moans, photographs and videos. Send them to us via the websites of Doncaster Free Press, Doncaster Star, South Yorkshire Times and the Epworth Bells, the facebook pages or on twitter to @DonnyFreePress, @southyorkstimes and @epworthB. Or email to sally.burton@jpress.co.uk